“Online reputation management, or ORM, is the practice of consistent research and analysis of one’s personal or professional, business or industry reputation as represented by the content across all types of online media.”
The pervasive nature of the internet has resulted in an ever increasing number of consumers and retailers using the internet as a form of communication through email, advertising and transacting business. In the UK during 2007 the total value of online sales was £163 Billion. This figure showed a staggering growth of 30% from the previous 12 months. (Office of National Statistics, 2008).
Irrespective of if a business actually transacts business online; every business needs to be aware of how they are perceived. A negative perception online can not only affect sales and investment offline, but can also deter potential employees from joining an organization, effectively crippling a business of both revenue and fresh talent.
In the Ten Tactics That Could Save Your Online Reputation, Andy Beal writes that “Assume everything will make its way to the web” and that those in business should “Monitor ..[their] online reputation as often as your email” (Beal, A 2008)
Online Reputation Management is achieved through internet monitoring technology which provides an early warning to businesses about references to them throughout the internet. By scanning the internet for target words or phrases, the name of the business, product brands and the name of key individuals; a report based on the positive or negative nature of how the business is perceived is returned to the user.
These services allow organisations to become immediately aware of any negative reviews, blog or new stories. Whilst also notifying owners of Intellectual Copyright if a registered Trade Mark or copyrighted piece of work has been published to the internet, allowing the legal owners to challenge any possible copyright infringement. Areas that are protected by online Reputation Management companies, also sometimes referred to as Reputation Monitoring companies are:
Trade Mark Scanning: Reporting use of registered TM’s across the internet. PPC: Reporting the competitors bidding on brand/ product name in online advertising campaigns. News Articles: News and Media entries will be identified, classified and reported. Multimedia: YouTube and popular image sharing sites such as Flickr will be scanned for results relating to a clients reputation or brand.
This type of service is defined as passive as it provides detection-only. Active Online Reputation Management uses the technical skills of search engine optimization(SEO) to displace negative references to a client from search engine results. Typically a successful Active strategy would be to have any inaccurate references removed through appeal and negotiations while simultaneously working to displace the negative references by increasing the rankings of positive results in Google, and Yahoo-Bing. The negative entries are then removed where possible, or buried deep within the search engines results pages to minimize their exposure.
As with any product prices vary depending on the level of service that each company provides, ranging from free up to many thousands per month for large organizations with multiple products and brands to monitor.
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